Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Coming Soon: Taxation, Representation?

In 2007, at the very end of my first semester in DC, the Senate killed the District of Columbia Voting Rights Act. Despite the Democratic majority in the chamber, support from eight aisle-crossing Republicans, and the fact that every "nay" voter knew damn well that they could expect spit in any burger they ordered in the district limits for the foreseeable future, the bill fell three votes short of beating the filibuster. And here's the thing: that was with an extra seat for Utah tagged on, in the interest of bipartisanship.

Now, in the context of 2007, that makes sense. DC is overwhelmingly Democratic, and extending the reach of voting rights generally tends to be a Democratic issue. The one seat the Dems held in '07 wasn't going to do the job. Add a seat for rightie Utah, though, and you eliminate the first problem from the Repub calculus and gain two GOP co-sponsors.

But here's the thing: this year, with the stronger Democratic majority, the bill is back. In fact, it just passed the Senate yesterday afternoon, and is expected to pass the House by next week. This is awesome. My question is... why add Utah this year? This is a pretty minor quibble, I guess, since it passed a cloture vote earlier today and is headed towards the considerably more receptive (and, you know, filibuster-free) House, who passed the Act 241-177 in '07. But since the addition of the extra Utah seat was primarily intended to soothe the palates of Republicans, a more-than-sufficient eight of whom voted Yea this time, and since the bill gained the cosponsorship of two republicans outside of the Utah delegation this year, and lost the cosponsorship of Bennett of Utah, and since Utah will inevitably get another Rep. in 2012, after the census, anyways... Why keep their seat in the bill? Why concede that gaming the thing is more important than giving 600,000 people actual federal representation?


Lindsay said...

Through the formula used to determine the number of seats a state gets, Utah is next in line to receive a seat. Increasing the number of seats in the house probably bumps Utah up to receive an additional seat. It's not solely for political reasons. (I took "Math and Politics" at GW)

Anonymous said...

Math and Politics was the ultimate GW class...